Edinburgh Monarchs captain Sam Masters reacted to clinching a new contract for next season at Armadale by describing the Capital side as “the best club in Britain and I love riding for them”.
The likeable Australian, who was a member of Monarchs league championship sides of 2014 and 2015, returns for a fourth spell in the famous blue and gold race-jacket and is determined to banish the miserable run of rain-offs Monarchs suffered this year to help bring back that silverware winning feeling once more to the Lothian Arena.
Masters said: “This season was a very difficult one for everybody involved at Edinburgh mainly due to the weather we had. And that made it difficult for me to get the team going the way I wanted it to.
“I want to put that right next summer providing the weather plays ball.”
Monarchs unveiled former Workington and Sheffied ace Ricky Wells as one of their new marque captures last week. It’s a move which pleases Masters. “It’s a good signing by Edinburgh and I get along with him fine,” said Masters, ”and I’m sure we will ride well together.
“We should be strong in the vital big heats and they are the important races to win especially at home.”
It’s clear that Masters has been consulted over the make-up of next year’s squad and he revealed: “I’ve a good idea what the rest of the team will be and I’m sure we can work on all the boys and get the best out of them.
“That’s what makes team speedway so enjoyable.”
Masters was one of the busiest riders in Britain this year and his schedule for 2017 looks to be just as demanding, something he acknowledged drew some concerns in certain quarters, but Masters insisted: “It’s certainly going to be a busy summer for me and I know a lot of people comment on that, but I would not have it any other way.”
With contracts sealed with teams in Denmark, Sweden, and Poland, Masters denied he is taking on too big a workload, pointing out: “That is what I come across to Europe to do. I do my relaxing back home in Australia. I won’t be affected by it and I’m set up to cope with it.”
Masters was consistent and pretty dominant at home this season and opponents found it tough to get the better of him. Much of that is down to the fact that Masters has never been spooked by the Armadale circuit, saying: “I have said this a few times before, but I love Edinburgh’s track and I’m so happy to be able to ride it again. Monarchs are the best club in Britain and I love riding for them.”
Monarchs team boss Alex Harkess admitted securing Masters as their No.1 rider was a top priority and said: “We consider Sam to be one of the Monarchs family now and there was never really any doubt over him coming back to us.
“There was a delay in making the announcement due to a slight problem with Sam obtaining a work permit for next year but it was not a major issue and we are delighted to welcome him back. Our supporters of course wanted him back and we are glad to give them what they wanted.”
Monarchs still have three places up for grabs and two of them must be filled by British riders, but Monarchs are also on the trail of Josh Pickering, a hotshot countryman of Masters. However, when asked about their interest in the New South Wales Under-21 champion, Harkess replied: “I have never heard of the guy, never heard of him.”
For Pickering to obtain a work permit for the UK in 2017, he must finish in the top four of the various State Championships back home and blew a golden chance to book his flight when he failed to make the final of the Victorian Championship nine days ago.
Pickering has other opportunities to fulfil the criteria laid down to race in the UK and might explain why Monarchs are not scheduled to make further announcements about their final line-up for at least another fortnight.
Meanwhile, the Monarchs Fans Trust have revealed they donated almost £30,000 to the capital club this year and have handed over £41,000 in total since they were formed two years ago to help safeguard the future of the Monarchs.
A Monarchs spokesman commented: “Without the generosity of the Trust the club might not be here today and in fact we were in danger of not completing this season due to the financial effects the weather had on our income. We cannot thank the Trust enough for their continuing endeavours to keep speedway alive at Armadale.”